This is the News in Brief from the United Nations.
COVID-19: UN health agency issues conditional advice against using remdesivir
Patients with COVID-19 should not be given the antiviral drug remdesivir, the UN World Health Organization (WHO) has said.
According to data from the WHO-led global Solidarity trial, there was no evidence that remdesivir had “any important effect” on people dying or reduced the need for ventilation, or speeded up the time it took for them to get better.
Nonetheless, WHO said there was no proof that the antiviral “had no benefit at all” and stressed that further trials should continue into whether the drug might be useful for more vulnerable patients.
Here’s Dr Janet Diaz, Head of Clinical Care at WHO, speaking in Geneva: “We recommend a conditional recommendation - so I want to highlight that, it’s a conditional recommendation - against the use of remdesivir in hospitalized patients - with COVID-19, regardless of disease severity…This does not prove that remdesivir does not have any benefit at all… You know, is there a sub-group that may benefit more – such as severe patients versus critical patients. Is there a timing in disease that may benefit more - such as early versus late.”
Latest data from WHO indicates that eight in 10 people infected with COVID report mild symptoms, while around five per cent become critically ill.
There are also reports of more “persistent longer-term symptoms”, WHO said.
Ethiopia Tigray crisis: Humanitarian fallout continues to worsen
More than 30,000 people have now fled Ethiopia’s Tigray region to Sudan in just two weeks amid ongoing fighting - and the UN says that it is planning for as many as 200,000 to arrive.
In an appeal for $200 million, UN Children’s Fund UNICEF said that about 45 per cent of refugees were children under 18.
Most people left their homes quickly and with nothing, although some had brought their animals, belongings and harvest, said UNICEF’s Sudan Representative Abdullah Fadil.
People were scared, “we saw panic and fear in the eyes of many children”, he told journalists, “especially those who might have witnessed artillery fire or airplanes dropping bombs”, in reference to fighting between Ethiopian Government and Tigray regional forces.
Sudan already hosts more than 1.2 million refugees and two million internally displaced people.
UN aid agencies have said that the number of people arriving in the country – some 4-5,000 a day – is unsustainable and potentially has serious repercussions for the whole region.
Syria’s Idlib, home to killings and unlawful detention
To northwest Syria finally, where the UN human rights office, OHCHR, has expressed alarm at disturbing reports of unlawful killings by de facto authorities and the continued detention of civilians, including humanitarian workers.
OHCHR spokesperson Ravina Shamdasani also appealed for the release of a 28-year-old woman, Noor al-Shallo, a humanitarian and media worker.
She was detained by non-State group Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham in recent days, it confirmed that it was holding her on so-called “moral” and “criminal” charges.
Ms. Shamdasani said that her family has not had any contact with her and that she may be at risk of execution.
Noor al-Shallo’s case is among many others that the UN Office office has documented of individuals detained or abducted - and executed - in the northwest and other parts of Syria over the past year.
Daniel Johnson, UN News. MW